Television Interview, Today

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

02 6277 7800

Release content

22 March 2024

SUBJECT/S: Submarine announcements, Chinese foreign minister, US Congress support for AUKUS, Collingwood’s terrible start to the AFL season

HOST, SARAH ABO: Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles joins us live now from Osborne in South Australia. Deputy PM, good to see you. Now we are handing over $5 billion to Britain. That's an eyewatering amount. What is it for?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, that amount is to build the nuclear reactors which will form part of the submarines that are constructed here at Osborne. We made clear last year that we would be investing in the UK industrial base for that purpose and indeed in the US industrial base. But the thing to understand is about $30 billion is going to be invested right here through to the mid-2050s to build Australia's industrial base and the announcement that we are making today that ASC and BAE will form a joint venture to build Australia's nuclear-powered submarines right here at Osborne is a profoundly important step towards us achieving that capability. We're going to see something like 4,000 to 5,000 jobs here in building those submarines when at its peak there'll be 7,000 people working here at Osborne. This is a great step for Australian industry.

HOST, KARL STEFANOVIC. So, you do like nuclear reactors?

MARLES: I like nuclear reactors in nuclear-powered submarines, Karl, a point I made during the week.

STEFANOVIC: It's a lot of great announcements, but are we ever going to see this delivered?

MARLES: Well, we are. And I think one of the really interesting things, I was at that plant in Rolls Royce’s plant in Derby in Britain last year where the nuclear reactors will be built. There are parts being built right now which we saw which will be on the first of those submarines delivered out of this construction facility in the early 2040s. So, work on them is happening right now. We've got people being trained right now both in how to operate nuclear-powered submarines, but how to build them. Work is being done here to get this facility, this site ready for the construction of the yard. So, work is underway. There is activity happening at a pace and we're confident we can meet these timelines.

ABO: And we are expecting, obviously, the jobs boost, as you say, there, but that timeline really is in contention at the moment.

MARLES: Well, I don't accept that. We are meeting all the timelines that we said we would a year ago when we announced this. I mean, a year ago we said we would make this announcement within a year, which is what we're doing. We've seen a whole lot of activity occur over the last twelve months. As I say, there are people being trained right now. We've got people in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii learning how to sustain nuclear powered submarines. That forms part of the other announcement that goes with today, which is that ASC will be the sustainer of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the Submarine Rotational Force West in Perth. We are on the job now, and this is going to happen on time.

STEFANOVIC: Did you invite the Chinese Foreign Minister to the announcement today?

MARLES: No, that didn't happen, Karl. I don't know where the Chinese Foreign Minister will be today, but that invitation did not go out.

STEFANOVIC: It is awkward, though, isn't?

MARLES: Oh, no, it's not awkward. I mean, we welcome the Chinese Foreign Minister in Australia over the last couple of days. They're an important trading partner and we've been working over the last couple of years in stabilising the relationship with China. What's implied in that question is that former governments have not been able to walk and chew gum at the same time, we can.

STEFANOVIC: Well look at you swaggering about.

ABO: Look, the reality of it is, as you know, Richard, AUKUS only exists because of the threat in our region, namely from China. And we're talking about potentially a new regime in America come November. So, what does that mean for the AUKUS agreement?

MARLES: Look, well Sarah, a couple of things there. I mean, AUKUS exists because we need to have a much greater capability in our defence force. This is actually about Australia's future and us determining our own future. And we're working with the US and the UK for Australia to acquire the nuclear powered submarine capability. It's not about any other country. And we are very confident that AUKUS will be able to continue over the long term because it has bipartisan support in the UK, here in Australia and in the US as well. I mean, the three countries, the US, the UK and Australia, are a long term team which will be able to deliver this.

ABO: All right, so what you're saying is AUKUS is a touch safer than Kevin Rudd?

MARLES: AUKUS is very safe. Kevin is very safe. And Kevin is doing a great job advocating on behalf of Australia, in the US. It's really good to talk to you guys this morning. 

STEFANOVIC: You must miss us.

ABO: You miss us Richard, come back. 

MARLES: I miss you a lot. 

STEFANOVIC: Said with a high pitched voice. 

MARLES: But, Sarah, the important point to make is this: AUKUS is a winning team, I mean, unlike Collingwood. The US, UK and Australia, will deliver.

ABO: We are where you were last year, my friend. Geelong had a long hangover after their Premiership and we’re just following in their footsteps.

MARLES: How did that work out? We know all about it.

ABO: You know all about it, you should be more sympathetic!


Other related releases